Just something that's been kicking around in my head for a couple of years.


3. How It Is

"Nolan, get your ass out of bed. I need you to go get groceries."

My Mom is coming up the stairs. She's kind of impatient, it's just how she is. She'll start a conversation by hollering down the length of the house–and the garden too, if that's where she is at the time, but then when you can't hear her or take two seconds to answer, she'll come and get you. At least you get a warning.

"Mom, I'm not still in bed, I'm sketching."

She barges into my room, without knocking of course. The first shout is all the warning you get.

"See? Sketching."

"Huh. Still in your pyjamas though. It's two in the afternoon."

"This is a t-shirt. That's proper clothes."

"Not arguin' Nolan. Get some pants on and come down. I've done a shopping list for you, you just need to go get it. You know I can't carry–"

"It's cool, Mom. I'll go." Mom came out of the big Flu with a lot of pain in her joints. That's how it hit some folk, which is luckier than the ones who didn't make it. And luckier than the few of us who got changed in more improbable ways, I guess. "I need more pencils anyhow."

"You certainly do get through pencils, kid. Maybe if you weren't always chewing them down to a stub they'd last longer." She sighs. "At least they're cheap."

"True that." I'm not good enough to really justify buying fancy ones. Also true I have a kind of habit of biting on my pencils while I'm thinking. After the Flu that took a strange turn. I brush three pencil stubs off the desk into my hand and pocket them, before Mom can get a close look. She turns and leaves, impatient to tick off the next thing on her list.

On my way to the store, I pop a pencil stub in my mouth and chew, tasting the slight sweetness as it softens. I spit out the 2H graphite core like grape pits as it breaks up.

Yeah. I know. At least I always buy the kind without paint on them. Paint flakes off and sticks in my teeth.

The thing with habits like chewing your pencil is, when the usual reasons not to do them don't apply, it's harder to stop. There really should be a support group for people like me. Hi my name is Nolan Macrae, and my sub-power is I can eat and digest wood.


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